It was just like when Mr. Rogers used to take us to see how crayons were made or how the string quartet worked, except it was Madame Bullwinkel leading us, it was in France, in French, and in the hip Paris neighborhood of Montmartre. Senegal born Djibril Bodian from Le Grenier à Pain the winner of the Best Baguette in Paris competition 2010 gave us a first hand demonstration of the steps to making a perfect baguette. This is of course after the flour has come from grain grown on good earth and has been handled with great care to create a very good dough. Part of receiving the distinction of Lauréat du Grand Prix de la Meilleure Baguette 2010 is being the official supplier of baguettes to the Sarkozy residence, Le Palais de l’ Élysée, for the year.
According to French bread law baguettes de tradition must be mixed, kneaded, leavened and baked on the site where they are sold, be additive-free and contain only four basic ingredients: wheat flour, water, salt and yeast.
The baguette shape must be uniform with 5 slashes to the crust and just a bit of pleasing bulge. The color is important. The sound also. The inside must have the desired "crumb". And of course the taste.
We felt priviledged to get this special tour from such a kind, artistic, and hardworking tour guide who is as important and beloved a figure in his Montmartre neighborhood as Fred Rogers was in his. Djibril Bodin seems to wear his celebrity well, and modestly, as evidenced by his gentle deflection of a bit of ribbing from the bakery regulars as our little group followed him through the baguette baking steps photographing his every move. Kudos to our tour organizer for arranging this true insiders' view into a quintessential part of la vie quotidienne in Paris.